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A month full of festive fun with the National Museum of the Royal Navy

Date published 01/12/2023
The Christmas lights on HMS Warrior Credit NMRN

December is a month full of festive fun at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, with events and decorations across all of the museum’s sites. Keep an eye out for HMS Warrior’s festive lights being switched on tonight, lighting up Portsmouth and ushering in the Christmas season. The museum's collection of historic ships, aircraft and exhibitions are also open, and are a great way to keep all the family entertained and busy as the temperature drops and nights grow longer.

The Mary Rose and HMS Warrior, Portsmouth, A Christmas Ship, Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd December 2023, 11am to 4pm  

A special joint event with HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose will invite visitors to explore Christmas through the ages, with a Victorian Christmas onboard HMS Warrior and a celebration of Tudor Christmas traditions brought to life at The Mary Rose, who are in a partnership with the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

At The Mary Rose, this event will immerse visitors in the Tudor world of Christmas merriment, music, magic - and a little mayhem! Meet the Tudor Christmas Court, be wowed by the sumptuous costumes of our Lords and Ladies, listen to merry music with our Tudor musician, dance and whirl like a Tudor with our courtly dancing lessons and be dazzled and amazed by our hilarious Court Jester. Discover how the men of the Mary Rose would have celebrated Christmas compared to the Lords and Ladies of Henry VIII’s Court. Finally, take part in our Tudor Christmas Trail and find out more about how the Tudor’s celebrated the yuletide season.  

Once you’ve experienced a Tudor Christmas, extend the festivities and get transported back to the 1860s in a festive immersive experience, as the crew of HMS Warrior prepare for a Victorian Christmas onboard. Enjoy traditional Victorian entertainment and meet the various members of the crew, marvel at the Magic Lantern Show with Professor Alan Brindle, meet the ship’s cook and more. Help the crew of Victorian sailors and Royal Marines decorate the gun deck and chat to them about their experiences in the Royal Navy.  


HMS Gallery, Portsmouth, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, the Mary Rose and Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, Gosport, Christmas Trails¸ Saturday 16th December until Monday 1st January 2024  

A whole range of trails at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard are sure to keep visitors busy. At the Submarine Museum help Sniff the polar bear create a Christmas meal, catch the sneaky reindeer and pick a mystery tin to creating your own mixed-up meal. The trail at Explosion Museum will have visitors tracking down cheeky mice who have ruined the Christmas cheese board, while at the HMS Gallery Barbara the polar bear needs help on her merry mission of finding lost presents. Visitors should keep an eye out for classic cracker jokes as they explore. This event operates during normal opening hours.  


The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool, Hartlepool, Christmas Adventures, Saturday 16th, Sunday 17th and Saturday 23rd December 2023

The elves have kept themselves busy this year setting up Santa’s Grotto at the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool. A ticket to Santa’s Grotto opens up a world of festive fun for visitors, with a special chance to meet Santa in his grotto and receive their own special gift.  

Once visitors have met Santa they can embark on the special festive trail around the authentically recreated Georgian Quay, get hands on with Christmas crafts, and enjoy festive fables at the museum.  

This event is taking place on the 16th, 17th and 23rd December, tickets cost £8, and are for one child and two adults. All adults and children must also have a valid ticket for the museum. This means that while visitors are taking part in festive events they can explore everything else the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool has to offer. Discover ground-breaking archaeology at the Diving Deep exhibition, explore an authentic Georgian frigate, and even more. A ticket for this event also includes a voucher for a free hot chocolate, a chance to warm up after a busy day exploring the galleries and taking part in Christmas activities.


HMS Caroline, Belfast, Dressed for the Festive Season, from Wednesday 29th November 2023

HMS Caroline is ready to welcome winter warriors braving the cold. Dressed for the festive season, the ship’s incredible story is being retold through guided tours, offering visitors expert personal insights and fascinating deeper dives into the ship’s extraordinary history. Guided tours mean visitors will be treated to new personally curated adventures which will further enrich and enhance their journey of discovery onboard, while also ensuring they never miss a thing.


Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovil, Christmas Trail, Saturday 16th December 2023 to Monday 1st January 2024

A special Christmas trail at the Fleet Air Arm Museum will have young visitors exploring Europe’s largest collection of naval aircraft, made all the more festive with decorations throughout the museum. Visitors can give the gift of naval aviation this Christmas, with a gift card giving access to the museum for an entire year. Return throughout the year for old favourites, seasonal events, and long-running conservation-in-action with Barracuda Live: The Big Rebuild.


To purchase tickets to visit any of our sites, and take part in events, please visit our tickets page.